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Friday, February 27, 2015

Ten Seconds To Hell (1959)

In post war Berlin, six Germans are employed as a bomb disposal unit. There are still hundreds of unexploded Allied bombs through out the city. The six men make a pact. They all put up half their salary and the money will go to the sole survivor of the six. For two of the men (Jeff Chandler, Jack Palance) who have an antagonistic relationship, it becomes personal. The director Robert Aldrich has an aggressive directorial style and a knack for bleak and darker films with cynical protagonists. Films like KISS ME DEADLY and WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? for example, follow their lead characters through a maze that leads to ironic conclusions which come too late for their central figures. TEN SECONDS TO HELL is not one of Aldrich's better films. Although he co-wrote the screenplay (based on the novel THE PHOENIX by Lawrence P. Bachmann), Aldrich is unable to form a believable relationship between its two combatants. It doesn't help that Chandler and Palance aren't remotely believable as Germans but Chandler gives a very poor performance. He's so innately likable that he can't make a convincing bastard and his drunk scene is cringe inducing. The bomb defusing sequences are well done with the requisite tension however. With Martine Carol (Ophul's LOLA MONTES) as the love interest,  Wesley Addy, Dave Willock, Virginia Baker, Robert Cornthwaite, James Goodwin and Jim Hutton.

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